Late Winter Buckwheat Cake

Toasty, crumbly buckwheat cake

Toasty, crumbly buckwheat cake

Putting aside for a moment the homemade Snickers bars, this might be the most unhealthy recipe I’ve ever posted; five egg yolks, half a pound of butter, and nearly half a pound of sugar. But since we’re going to be stuck in Moscow winter for all eternity, there’s no need to prepare for swimsuit season.

This cake is based on the traditional French Gâteau Breton, which tells me right away that it will be satisfyingly old-fashioned: butter, flour, sugar and eggs. No leaveners, no stabilisers. In fact, there’s nothing light about this at all.

Couldn't resist a hot slice of cake.

Couldn’t resist a hot slice of cake.

Buckwheat Cake (adapted from, which was in turn adapted from David Leibovitz’s recipe from The Sweet Life in Paris)

Click here for another buckwheat cake, from almost exactly this time last year

  • 140g buckwheat flour
  • 140g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp plus 1/3 tsp sea salt (this is the place to use any fancy salt you have lying around)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 240g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 175g sugar (any kind will do)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • seeds of one vanilla pod (alternatively, 3/4 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar)

The glaze: 1 large egg yolk and 1 tsp milk

Butter a 9- or 10-inch removable-bottom tart pan or, failing that, use a pie dish as I did. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

In a small bowl, mix the buckwheat and all-purpose flower together with 1/2 tsp salt and the cinnamon

In a separate bowl, cream the butter until it’s soft and airy. If you’re too lazy to wait and put the butter in the oven to melt as I did, it won’t be any great harm. Mix in the sugar and cream together until it’s uniform.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 4 egg yolks and the whole egg. Stir in the vanilla. Give it a few good whisks or a good pass with the electric mixer. Then mix the eggs into the butter and sugar, stirring well. Slowly pour in the flour mixture and stir until it’s just combined. Scrape into your prepared pan and level the top with a spatula.

Mix the glaze together and spread over the top of the cake with a pastry brush or your fingers. Then draw a lattice design over the top by raking your fork across the top in three parallel lines. Then make three parallel lines going diagonally, forming a criss-cross design. Sprinkle the rest of the salt over the top, and put your cake in the oven. The original recipe says it should bake for 45 minutes, but mine took 25. Judge accordingly: you want your cake to be golden and shiny, but not at all dry.

My cake got a little burnt in our manic Soviet oven, but even so I think it looks very pretty with its latticed top and glazed edges. A good cake for staying in while the last of winter plays out. This little guy understands: